Dangerous conflicts – all connected?/Land Conservation funding in jeopardy?

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What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, August 20, 2018:? 

Each day, newspaper headlines recount conflicts happening in countries around the globe. The civil wars in Syria and Yemen, the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, and the never-ending sectarian violence in Iraq.  

What newspapers rarely say, though, is that these modern-day conflicts are, in many ways, connected. An Associated Press report observed that never in the last 70 years have conflicts seemed as interconnected as they are now.   

The big players on the global stage are, of course, the United States and Russia, but also Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Powerbrokers and nation-states, vying for influence throughout the world, often far away from their own borders, play a role in most of the world’s current struggles.  

A nation-state must balance many factors before engaging in a proxy relationship with another nation or opposition group. The stakes are high, and the cost of intervening could set the condition for a larger proxy war.  

Joining Smart Talk on Monday to discuss the ethics of proxy relationships and global trouble spots is Dr. Tony Pfaff, Research Professor, Strategic Studies Institute 

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Dr. Tony Pfaff


Also, the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund is scheduled to expire September 30 unless Congress reauthorized funding.  For more than 50 years, the fund has provided money to preserve and maintain parks, open spaces, forests, wetlands, and historic sites and improve access for hunters and those who enjoy the outdoors.

The Conservation Fund is using a portion of revenues from offshore oil and gas royalty payments.

Ed Perry of the National Wildlife Federation appears on Monday’s Smart Talk to discuss renewing the fund.


Leadership through farming and ag worker shortage


Photo by LEAF


What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, August 16, 2018: 

On a picturesque, three-acre farm along the banks of Sherman’s Creek, youth from diverse walks of life arrive most summer mornings for their jobs. Their drive to work takes them over north mountain and into a more peaceful part of Central PA; rural Perry County. They come to work, to farm.  

The youth work for a non-profit called the LEAF Project, which stands for Leadership, Education and Farming. LEAF selects about 24 “interns” each summer, between 14-18 years of age, who work alongside farmers and chefs for the eight-week program.  

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LEAF Farm/Photo by LEAF

The project’s mission is to develop youth leaders from diverse backgrounds through meaningful work in the food system. This includes everything from planning to planting, harvesting, packaging, marketing and preparing the produce. Organizers believe that by connecting youth to the food they eat, the land on which it grows, and to each other, leaders emerge who will be inspired to create personal and social change.   

Executive director Heidi Witmer founded the LEAF Project in 2013 with “the remarkable support of many people.” She, along with most of the staff, have community development or education backgrounds, which supports the program’s youth development mission. They also partner with other local farms and restaurants to expose the youth-interns to the wider food system in our area.  

Heidi Witmer, LEAF Founder and Executive Director is on Thursday’s Smart Talk, along with Sam Predmore, Assistant Crew Leader and Dailah Mial, Field Crew Manager. Chef Kurt Wewer, Executive Chef and General Manager of Little Bird Craft Kitchen at Ever Grain Brewing Company is joining the conversation, as well. 

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Dailah Mial, Heidi Witmer and Sam Predmore

While LEAF cultivates leaders through work in the food system, farms across Pennsylvania are struggling to find enough workers. The second part of Thursday’s Smart Talk explores this issue.

Local agriculture workforces are decreasing as families shrink, meaning that family farms now have fewer family members to maintain them. Locals may also prefer to hold jobs in industries besides agriculture, even if they grew up in farming families.

In addition, the agriculture industry relies on migrant workers, and more stringent immigration policies have discouraged many of these workers from coming to the United States.

The H2-A program has attempted to ease the problem of decreasing migrant workers by allowing employers in the United States to temporarily bring foreign employees into the country. It has experienced mixed levels of success. 

Joining us on Thursday to discuss worker shortages in agriculture are Mark O’Neill, Media and Strategic Communications Director of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, and Jon Strite, Farm Manager of Strites’ Orchard.

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Mark O’Neill

Grand Jury on Catholic Church child sex abuse

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Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro holds hands with Judy Deaven who says her son was a victim of sexual abuse by a priest as a boy, during a news conference at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, August 8, 2018:

The Grand Jury report on child sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania released Tuesday by Attorney General Josh Shapiro is one of the most extensive investigations into priests and others affiliated with the Church to date.

The Grand Jury named 301 priests, said there were more than a thousand victims that they knew of and probably thousands more.  Due to the statute of limitations, only two have been prosecuted.

On Wednesday’s Smart Talk, we discuss the report and a recommendation from the Grand Jury to eliminate the statute of limitations. 

With us on the program are Rep. Mark Rozzi of Berk County — an abuse survivor — and Pennsylvania’s Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm. We are also joined by survivor John Delaney.

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Jennifer Storm and Mark Rozzi

Update: The conversation about the grand jury report extended for the whole hour. Kirk Stoner, Nathan Wolf and Lisa Riggs will join us to discuss conflicts of interest on Sept. 7.

Smart and sustained growth is a goal of most communities. What happens, though, when planned growth and development conflict with the interests of one or more key stakeholders?

Several high-profile community disputes made headlines this summer involving municipalities, developers and community members.

One such battle involved the Cumberland Valley School District. The district hoped to construct a new school on the McCormick Farm, which is part of the Natural Lands Trust. After considerable public outcry and hearings, the school district withdrew their plans.

In another example of conflicting interests, developers seek a zoning text amendment to develop the Summerdale Property in East Pennsboro Township. They hope to develop a light industrial component to the property, which could include warehousing. A public debate began, and the township planning commission recently recommended rejecting any changes. Township officials take up that vote next month.  

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Photo from Google Maps

So, if most communities seek smart and sustained growth, how do stakeholders work together toward a consensus? And if they cannot, what is the process to defend their interests?

In the studio are Kirk Stoner, Director of Planning, Cumberland County, Nathan Wolf, Attorney at Law, and Lisa Riggs, President, the Economic Development Company of Lancaster County.

Specialization injuries in young athletes

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What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, August 8, 2018:

Youth sports is big business and it’s getting bigger. Children as young as pre-school are joining competitive sports programs and specializing at younger ages.

Boston NPR affiliate WBUR reported that in the past, American kids went out for Little League and school sports and, occasionally, one may have gone on to play in college or maybe even the pros. Today, a new model exists that seems to promote the pursuit of college scholarships and the elusive professional contract.

In fact, young athletes and their parents say that players have little chance of even making a high school team if they don’t pick a sport early and stick with it.

This emphasis on sports specialization and, in many cases, performing year-round, is having significant health consequences.

Sports medicine researchers are reporting overuse injury trends. Drs. Randolph Cohen and Eric Eisner, U18 Sports Medicine, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, FL, see an injury trend in young children who are playing sports for long hours and with great repetition. The researchers say that 20 years ago injuries like this were much rarer. They attribute it to the increase in kids specializing in a single sport and competing at a younger age.

Smart Talk is highlighting the risk of specialization injuries in young athletes with Dr. Michael Cordas, UPMC Pinnacle, board certified in family practice and sports medicine and the chairman of the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA).

Also, in the studio is Dr. Matthew Silvis, Penn State Hershey Sports Medicine, and author of forthcoming paper on overuse injuries. Coach Charlie Fortney, Program director, Advanced Hoops AAU Basketball, is in the studio, as well. Coach Fortney played high school and collegiate basketball and assists players in the college basketball recruiting process.


Dr. Matthew Silvis, Coach Charlie Fortney and Dr. Michael Cordas

Harrisburg’s taxing authority and limiting kid’s screen time


What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, August 13, 2018: 

At one point in the last decade, the city of Harrisburg considered bankruptcy as a way out of a downward spiraling financial situation. The city was millions of dollars in debt due to a now-sold, and often maligned, incinerator project.  

Harrisburg sought protection through a state oversight program for “financially distressed” Pennsylvania cities, called Act 47. The name comes from the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act (Act 47 of 1987). 

For the past seven years, Harrisburg has operated under Act 47, which also gives the city taxing authority to increase revenues to elevate itself out of the distressed status. Once out of Act 47 protection, that taxing authority would go away.  

WITF Capitol Bureau Chief Katie Meyer reports that Harrisburg can now keep its special, high earned income and local services taxes through at least 2020. 

According to Meyer, the state Department of Community and Economic Development, which oversees the capitol city’s financial recovery, released the news in its latest proposal for Harrisburg’s exit from its distressed municipality status. 

RepPatty Kim (D-Harrisburg)wants the special taxing authority extended indefinitely and she is sponsoring legislation to secure the authority. She and others say that because Harrisburg has such high commuter levels, a lot of tax-exempt property, and a poor tax base, the taxing authority is necessary.  

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Representative Patty Kim


Representative Kim is in the studio to talk about the legislation and Harrisburg’s financial future after Act 47.  

Do your kids spend too much time on their tablets and phones? If so, you’re not alone. Two Pennsylvania college professors offer a solution on their website screenfreeparenting.com. They argue that childhood creativity is on the decline and too much screen time is one of the reasons.   

Their advice is to SPOIL your kids every day, which is an acronym for five screen-free activities to engage children. 

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Dr. Meghan Owenz and Professor Adam Owenz


Professor Adam OwenzAlbright College, and Dr. Meghan OwenzPenn State Berks, are in the studio to talk about how to engage kids without using screen time.  You can visit their website Screen Free Parenting to learn more about their work.

Murder in the courtroom and Esports


What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, August 10, 2018: 

On a hot, August day in 1955, Lulu and Percy Haines met in a Cumberland County courtroom to receive the judge’s order finalizing their domestic case.  

Percy Haines responded violently when Judge Mark E. Garber ordered him to pay Lulu $50 month in support and according to press reports, he pulled a .22-caliber handgun out of his shirt pocket and opened fire.    

Haines first shot his estranged wife in the abdomen, then moved on to her attorney, George Black and local attorney, John Faller, Jr.  Haines then approached the judge’s bench and shot Garber, before he was tackled by the court reporter, ending the rampage.  

Attorney Faller died of his wound, while the other three victims survived. To this day, Faller is only member of the Cumberland County Bar Association to be shot while performing his duties.  

On Friday, August 17, the Cumberland County Bar Association is reenacting this event, featuring local members of the association playing the real-life courtroom participants.  

Event organizers Ron TuroEsq., and George Faller, Esq., and nephew of the murdered lawyer, are in the studio to talk about the event.  

The reenactment begins at 3:00 pm in the Historic Cumberland County Courthouse, Carlisle, PA, and is free and open to the public.  

Also, on Smart Talk, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology is making history as the first Pennsylvania University to assemble a varsity esports team.  

The team, called The Storm, is comprised of 16 full-scholarship players and will compete against other National Association of Collegiate Esports teams beginning in September. The University has invested nearly three million dollars establishing the program. 

Harrisburg University President Eric Darr and Chad Smeltz, program director, are in the studio to talk about the program and the team’s competition preparation.   



Shut out of the housing market


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What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, August 9, 2018: 

What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago, housing values plummeted, and homes were repossessed in unprecedented numbers because of the economic recession. Today, a new housing crisis has developed with home buyers shut out of the market because of low inventory and sky-high prices. NPR reports that new home construction nationwide is at its slowest pace since the 1980s 

Finding available and affordable housing is especially problematic among minority groups. Affordable rental properties are also hard to find and may offer no viable option. The National Low-Income Housing Coalition released an annual report, “Out of Reach 2018.”  They concluded that “there is no place in the U.S. where someone working full-time and earning minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom rental home at the national average fair market rent. 

NPR is airing a series this week called Shut Out of The Housing Marketlooking at the problem nationwide. Why is this happening during a booming economy? Who is affected and what can be done to increase inventory at an affordable price? 

On Thursday, Smart Talk will look at the housing market in Pennsylvania with Todd Umbenhauer, PresidentPennsylvania Association of Realtors and Daniel Durden, CEO, Pennsylvania Builders Association Also in the studio is Erin Wolfe, Associate Broker, Wolfe & Company Realtors


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Dan Durden and Erin Wolfe

Road Trip to Beau’s Dream Dog Park in Lancaster

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What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, August 8, 2018:

It’s a Smart Talk Road Trip to Beau’s Dream Dog Park at Buchanan Park in Lancaster Wednesday!

Smart Talk Road Trips are usually a lot of fun for the audience and the Smart Talk crew — even when we’re discussing serious topics.  But this Smart Talk Road Trip promises to be enjoyable for a couple of reasons.  First of all, the Smart Talk audience has often told us that they like the shows when we’re focusing on pets and animals.  And secondly, the family dog gets to participate in this show by playing at Beau’s Dream Dog Park.

The namesake for the park — Beau — will be there Wednesday with his owner Angela Ryan, who dreamed up the plans for the dog park and submitted them to the city as part of a competition.  Angela joins us this program to discuss what inspired her.  Charlotte Katzenmoyer, Lancaster’s Director of Public Works also is with us.

We’ll also discuss how a dog’s brain works, training, health and where people get their dogs.

Appearing on the Road Trip are Dr. Mikk Regester with Willow Run Veterinary Clinic, Kaye Ames, a dog trainer, and Connie Kondravy, President of the Organization for Responsible Care of Animals of ORCA.

“Wednesday’s Smart Talk Road Trip LIVE remote broadcast is supported by Roof Advisory and Pleasant View Retirement Community.”

Nurses rally for improved staffing

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What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, August 7, 2018:

A coalition of Pennsylvania nurses hand-carried a 10-thousand signature petition to the state Capitol last week to push lawmakers to act on legislation stalled in house and senate committees.

The legislation, titled Hospital Patient Protection, mandates lower patient-to-nurse ratios. The nurse’s coalition say that current staffing levels in many hospitals ultimately hurts patients.

The proposed legislation states that hospital staffing should be based on the individual patient’s care needs, the severity of the condition, and the services needed.

Read the bills here:

The coalition is facing opposition from both the state’s Hospital Association, and their own Nurses Association.

WITF Capitol Bureau Chief Katie Meyer reported that association CEO Betsey Snook said that while the group wholeheartedly believes hospitals across the state do have a staffing problem, they don’t support mandatory ratios because, in part, they’re not flexible enough.

Instead, the group supports a proposal to create committees that would involve more nurses in staffing decisions.

Meyer reported that a spokesman for the Hospital and Health system Association of Pennsylvania said they don’t think there’s a staffing problem.

Joining Smart Talk on Tuesday is Dr. Mark Crider, President, Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, and nurses Debbie Vandover, York, and Sharon Mitchell, Wilkes-Barre.


Dr. Mark Crider, Sharon Mitchell and Debbie Vandover


Update: The conversation about nurse-to-patient ratios extended for the whole hour. President Eric Darr and Chad Smeltz are in the studio Friday to discuss The Storm.

Also on Smart Talk, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology is making history as the first Pennsylvania University to assemble a varsity esports team, called The Storm.

The team is comprised of 16 full-scholarship players and will compete against other National Association of Collegiate Esports teams beginning in September. The University has invested nearly three million dollars establishing the program.

Harrisburg University President Eric Darr and Chad Smeltz, program director, are in the studio to talk about the program.



Is new short-term insurance a good option?/Service dogs

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What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, August 6, 2018:

Do changes to short-term, limited duration health insurance plans provide quality coverage to Pennsylvanians?

That’s a question Smart Talk examines Monday.

Consumers will soon be able to purchase the plans for up to three years after changes implemented by the Trump Administration.  Federal regulations currently limit the plans to three months.

The STLDs are inexpensive but don’t comply with the Affordable Care Act’s consumer protection and coverage requirements. 

Pennsylvania’s Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman has said she’s concerned that consumers won’t have enough coverage when they need it if they have a short-term policy.  Commissioner Altman appears on Monday’s Smart Talk along with WITF’s Transforming Health reporter Brett Sholtis.

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Brett Sholtis and Commissioner Jessica Altman

Also on the program, we learn about the Susquehanna Service Dogs organization who raise, train and place service dogs and hearing dogs with people throughout Central Pennsylvania.  The service dogs assist people with disabilities to be more independent in living their lives.What goes into raising a service dog, what services can the dogs perform, and how are they trained?

Joining us on Monday’s Smart Talk are volunteers Lisa Slater and Gail Frassetta.

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Lisa Slater, Scott LaMar and Gail Frassetta, with SSD Comet and Hermione